Ilse Getz (1917-1992) was born in Nuremberg, Germany and immigrated to the U.S. in 1933. She studied at the Art Students League with George Grosz and Morris Kantor and at the Ozenfant School. Getz was a collage and construction artist active from the 1950s through the 1980. She exhibited at several galleries in New York City including the Bertha Schaefer Gallery and Rosenberg Gallery.
During her childhood, Ilse Getz (nee Bechhold) had been uprooted both from home and country. She was first displaced in 1929, when she was sent to Hamburg to live with her sister after her father died by suicide. In 1933, Ilse and her sister left Nazi Germany, and traveled to Italy, Spain, Cuba, and Mexico. Ilse joined immediate family in New York. In 1937, Ilse married lawyer David Getz and settled in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Three years later she had a child and became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
In 1942, while visiting her sister in Mexico, Getz created her first oil painting. Upon returning to New York, Ilse continued her artistic exploration and studied with George Grosz and Morris Kantor at the Art Students League. By 1945, Getz had already held her first solo exhibition at the Norlyst Gallery in New York.
Getz traveled extensively throughout her life, incorporating the experiences in her work. During 1947-1948, she traveled and worked in Europe, visiting Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal among other countries before retiring for four months in Guaruja, Brazil. She destroyed most of the artwork created during that period and returned to New York City.
During the summer of 1956, Getz taught and exhibited at the Positano Art Workshop in Italy along with Piero Dorazio. She repeated the experience two years later. In 1958, Getz married her second husband, artist Manoucher Yektai. The following year, Getz and Yektai went to Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York after having received fellowships to the artists' community.
In 1960, Getz was commissioned by Richard Barr to create the set for Eugene Ionesco's play, The Killer. The venue was the Seven Arts Theater in New York City and she completed the set in five days. Getz spent the next two years in Paris where she was represented by the Iris Clert Gallery; she exhibited in France, Germany and England. In 1962, Getz returned to New York City and maintained a studio on the Upper East Side. Getz married for the third time in 1964 to Gibson Danes who was then the Dean of Yale School of Art and Architecture. The couple lived in New York and Connecticut, and eventually settled in Newtown, Connecticut.
Getz participated in national and international exhibitions and in solo and group shows. Her collages and constructions incorporate items such as dolls, toys, birds, eggs, playing cards, and game boards. In 1978, retrospective exhibitions of Getz's work were held at the Neuberger Museum in Purchase, New York and in her native city at the Kunsthalle Nürnberg. Retrospective exhibitions were also held in 1980 at the Goethe House and Alex Rosenberg Gallery.
Later in life, Getz suffered from advanced Alzheimer's disease. In 1992, Gibson Danes, fearful that he would no longer be able to properly care for his wife, took both his life and that of Ilse Getz. They were found dead in their garage from acute carbon monoxide toxicity after breathing the fumes of their idling car.